What does Matthew 12:5 mean?
ESV: Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?
NIV: Or haven't you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?
NASB: Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath, and yet are innocent?
CSB: Or haven't you read in the law that on Sabbath days the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent?
NLT: And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath?
KJV: Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is challenging some Pharisees who have accused His disciples of breaking the Law of Moses. They were breaking off heads of grain and eating them while walking through a field on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1–2). The Pharisees' official position claimed such a thing was "work," so when done on the Sabbath it was a violation of the fourth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8–11).

In response, Jesus asked if they have read of the time David took holy bread from the temple in a desperate situation (1 Samuel 21:1–6). David's action, and the aftermath, showed the purpose of the law went beyond mindless literalism.

Now Jesus continues asking His questions. The same Law of Moses, cited by the Pharisees, notes that priests are permitted to "work" as they serve in the temple on the Sabbath. Those tasks are their routine jobs. The Law, however, declared them guiltless because they were doing what God commanded them to do.

Again, Jesus is showing that the Law of Moses was not intended to elevate the law above a prayerful respect for God's will. The priests served God first, as they must. They did not serve a wooden interpretation of the words, while telling God to wait. That would have been backwards and would have broken the very purposes for which God gave that rule. Jesus will show that the Pharisees also approach the law backwards. Their extra rules undo the real intent of God's laws, meant for the good of God's people.
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:1–8 finds Jesus' hungry disciples breaking the heads off grain and eating as they walk through a field with Him on the way to the synagogue. Some Pharisees tell Jesus this is unlawful. In their interpretation, this is a violation of the command not to work on the Sabbath. Jesus counters the accusation with a series of questions, showing their manmade restriction cannot stand. Their legalistic, expanded view doesn't reflect God's intended meaning of the Sabbath. The Pharisees must learn that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. He declares Himself greater than the temple, and Lord of the Sabbath.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 12 features confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus over several issues. Among these are working on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, and the source of His power to cast out demons. Jesus counters each argument and rebukes the Pharisees sharply for their obstinate unbelief. He even notes that those who maliciously ascribe His miracles to demons are unforgivable. He warns them, and the rest of their current generation, about the judgment to come. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers and rejects their demand for another miracle. All they'll be promised is the sign of Jonah. The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days. Jesus also states that all who do His Father's will are His family.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 depicted Jesus preaching and teaching after sending out His chosen disciples in pairs in chapter 10. Chapter 12 immediately picks up with more confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus responds to those criticisms and rebukes their evil hearts as the source of their evil words. In the following chapter, Matthew will shift His focus onto Jesus' parables.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 4/18/2024 1:16:40 AM
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